The veterans were catalysts, giving the Wild the boost it needed to shrug out of the funk that headlined its stay in Winnipeg for the start of this first-round, best-of-seven series.
But the newcomers to the postseason also contributed, a well-timed lift that put an exclamation point on the Wild’s decisive 6-2 win over the Jets Sunday in Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 2-1.
“I think that says a lot of good things about our team,” rookie winger Jordan Greenway said. “We’ve got a lot of scoring from our top two lines and secondary scoring, too. Everyone is pushing in the right direction. When we do all the right things out there, we have the success like we did tonight.”
Greenway notched his first NHL goal in the second period, a spin-o-rama shot from the slot that was part of a three-goal outburst by the Wild to close out the period and solidify its comeback win.
It was Greenway’s second point of the playoffs, as he also set up a goal in Game 1. He became the first player in team history to score the first goal of his NHL career in the playoffs.
“It was good,” Greenway said. “It was a good faceoff win by [Matt] Cullen, and I just tried to get to the front of the net. I don’t know who shot it from the point, but I just stepped out from the high slot and it found me. I tried to put it on net as quick as I could, and it found the back of the net. It was exciting.”
Defenseman Nick Seeler was the one who initially put the puck on net, his first of two assists on the night.
Seeler also made a difference defensively, especially on the penalty kill where he helped the team snuff out four of five chances for the Jets. His four blocked shots, which tied his career-best, were especially key, and he skated a career-high 18 minutes, 40 seconds.
Overall, Seeler leads the Wild with 10 blocked shots this postseason.
“Any way I can help the team, so whether it’s a couple of blocks or chipping in on the offense when it presents itself,” Seeler said. “So it was a great team win tonight. It was awesome.”
The second assist Seeler earned was on winger Marcus Foligno’s first career postseason tally. A Jared Spurgeon shot bounced off Foligno and in for the Wild’s final goal of the game.
“Lower abdomen,” he said. “Yeah, it was good. I’ll massage that one out later. We’re putting pucks on net. We’re getting bodies there now.”
In total, Wild players combined for 18 points – a home playoff record, which tied for ninth in the NHL for most home points in a single playoff game in the last six postseasons. Captain Mikko Koivu had two assists, and his four in the series pace the Wild. Defenseman Matt Dumba had his first career playoff game-winner while adding an assist.
Winger Zach Parise extended his goal streak to three games, and center Eric Staal scored his first of the series.
“That’s definitely what it takes,” Dumba said. “Leadership stepping up. Veterans who have been in this situation before. Just trying to carry the load. It takes everyone. Everyone needs to be pulling in the right direction. It was nice to see that tonight for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’ll continue in Game 4.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s Game 3 win over the Jets.
-The fourth line was solid against the Jets, setting up a goal and finishing off another with Foligno’s tally.
His unit, which also features center Joel Eriksson Ek and winger Daniel Winnik, has made its presence felt throughout the series, impact that’s made it difficult for Boudreau to make substitutes.
Not only has the trio dished out hits, and absorbed them without slowing down much, but the three has done a steady job of getting into the Jets’ end and gaining zone time through the cycle game.
“They’re playing hard, and they’re big, physical guys and have got good hockey sense for the most part,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought the shift where Foligno hit two or three guys [in the first period] was the one that sort of turned it all around for us and got the crowd into it. We sort of went well from there.”
-After getting shut down through the neutral zone in Winnipeg, the Wild finally got pucks deep and with authority – an improvement that helped it generate much-needed offensive-zone time.
The team also crashed the crease more frequently. Not only did this create scoring opportunities, but it seemed to fluster the Jets – who committed penalties amid the pressure in the paint and along the boards.
“[The offense] made some good adjustments as far as coming through the neutral zone, and I thought it was great,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “It was very noticeable. It’s not a secret or magic trick how we score goals. We’re going to the net. We’re a lot of movement in the offensive zone. I think there’s a lot more crisscrossing and moving around under control, and that’s going to confuse the other team. We did that a lot better tonight, and it’s got to feel good for the guys to get six and we’re going to have to play that same way.”
-Jets coach Paul Maurice didn’t have an update on defenseman Tyler Myers, who was injured late in the second period after getting tied up with Foligno and falling to the ice. Myers didn’t return to the game.
“We’ll have him looked at,” Maurice said.